Benjamin JOWETT (1817–1893)
St Michael section: Row 4, Grave C51

Jowett grave

Lion rampant

BORN APRIL 15, 1817. DIED OCTOBER 1, 1893
1870 – 1893

The cope and plinth are made of polished Cornish granite, and they rest on a large landing of finely chamfered grey Dalbeattie granite.

Right: The Balliol crest (a lion rampant) on top right of the grave
Below: Inscription on the other side

Jowett grave back


See PictureOxon for a Henry Taunt photograph of this grave covered with wreaths in 1893

See the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and also Wikipedia for the
full academic career of Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol College, Oxford and Regius Professor of Greek

Benjamin Jowett

Benjamin Jowett was born in Camberwell on 15 April 1817 and baptised at St Giles's Church there on 16 May. He was the son of Benjamin Jowett senior (1788–1859) and Isabella Langhorne (1790–1869), who were married at that church on 22 September 1814.

He was educated at St Paul’s School, London and went up to Balliol College with a scholarship in October 1836. He was elected a Fellow of the college in November 1838 (before taking his degree), and obtained a First in Literae Humaniores the following year.

The 1841 census shows Benjamin Jowett (24) living at Balliol College. Meanwhile his father, described as a gentleman, and his mother Isabella were living at Park End Cottage at Kidbrooke in Kent with four of their other children: Emily (25); Alfred (20), who was a medical student; William (15), and Frederick (14); they also had two servants. Later in the 1840s, his parents moved to France.

In 1855 Jowett was appointed Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford.

Master's Lodgings, Balliol College

Jowett had stood as a candidate for the Mastership of Balliol in 1854, but was beaten by Robert Scott. For the next ten years the college was divided into two parties, Scott’s and Jowett’s, and the situation was only resolved in 1870 when Gladstone appointed Scott to the deanery of Rochester, and Jowett was elected Master.

Right: The Master’s Lodgings of Balliol College in Broad Street, where Jowett lived from 1870 to his death in 1893. Jackson’s Oxford Journal stated: “His own house at Balliol, though it had not the advantage of a hostess – for the Master was never married – was the meeting-point of the University and the outer world. For 23 years during term-time, he seldom failed to have small ‘Saturday to Monday’ parties staying with him.”

Undergraduates composed the following rhyme about Jowett:

Here come I, my name is Jowett.
All there is to know I know it.
I am Master of this College,
What I don’t know isn’t knowledge!

At the time of the 1881 census Jowett was staying at a lodging house (Harrow Cottage) at Mathon, Worcestershire with William H. Forbes, a tutor of Balliol, and three of the college undergraduates; and in 1891 he was staying at Ashfield House, the lodging house next door, with two students of Classics.

Benjamin Jowett died in 1893 while staying at the home of a former pupil, the judge Sir Robert Wright, at Headley Park in Hampshire. Sir William Markby of Pullen's Lane, Headington and Thomas Hill Green of Oxford were both present during his last hours:

† Benjamin Jowett died at Headley Park, Hampshire at the age of 76 on 1 October 1893 and was buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 6 October (burial recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church).

Jowett is buried in the St Michael’s section of the cemetery, rather than the St Mary Magdalen section as would have been expected. As the population of St Michael’s parish was going down, it is possible that Balliol College (in the more populous St Mary Magdalen parish) may have purchased some prominent plots for its distinguished Fellows, as Balliol’s Professor Albert Venn Dicey is also buried in the St Michael's ground.

The following notice appeared in The Times on 3 October 1893:

The body of Professor Jowett was taken to Oxford yesterday afternoon, having been removed from Headley-hall. The remains, enclosed in a shell, were brought by road, a distance of about seven miles, to Farnham Station and thence by rail, reaching Oxford at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Sir William Markby and Mrs. T. H. Green travelled with the remains, and were met at the Great Western Railway Station in Oxford by Mr. J. L. Strachan Davidson, Dean of Balliol, Sir John Conroy, Mr. W. Ross Hardie, Mr. W. H. Forbes, Mr. A. L. Smith, and Mr. E. J. Palmer, Fellows of Balliol, Mr. J. W. Russell, mathematical lecturer at Balliol, and Mr. R. W. Raper, Fellow and Bursar of Trinity; and these followed the hearse in procession to the Master’s lodgings at Balliol. The funeral has been arranged to take place on Friday next in St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Oxford, the first part of the service being read in the college chapel at 2 o’clock p.m. Friends from a distance who wish to sleep in college either on Thursday or Friday night are requested to telegraph to the bursar.

The funeral was duly conducted at Balliol College Chapel, followed by interment at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery. Jowett never married (although he is on record as having said that he had proposed to the nurse, Florence Nightingale), and all his siblings were dead, so no close relatives attended.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal published a massive obituary on 7 October 1893, and named the pall-bearers at the service at Balliol College, who were all old members of the college: the Headmaster of Eton, and seven heads of colleges: the Warden of Merton (the Hon. George C. Brodrick); the Warden of All Souls (Sir William Anson); the Rector of Exeter (Dr Jackson); the President of Magdalen (Mr. T. H. Warren); the Provost of Oriel (Mr D. Binning Monro); the Principal of Brasenose (Mr C. B. Heberden); and the Rector of Lincoln (Dr Merry). It goes on to describe the procession from the chapel to St Sepulchre’s cemetery and the service there:

The first part of the service, in Balliol College Chapel, where the body was placed on Thursday evening, was conducted by the Hon. and Rev. Canon Fremantle, after which the coffin, borne on the shoulders of eight servants of the college, passed through the Fellows’ garden, and proceeded round the quad, and then passed out at the gate near the Martyrs’ Memorial, where it was placed in an open car, three wreaths only being placed upon it. The procession, which was of great length, was then formed, and walked along St. Giles’s-street and St. John’s-road to the cemetery, where a vast concourse of persons had assembled. The service was concluded at the grave side by the Bishop of London and Archdeacon Palmer. The grave was of plain earth, and is next to that of Professor Green, at the upper part of the cemetery, and near to where Mr. F. Symonds is interred. The wreaths sent were very numerous and extremely beautiful. The order of the procession was—The marshal and bellman, the Vice-Chancellor, the Proctors, Heads of Houses, the Mayor of Oxford, Aldermen, clergy, the coffin and pall bearers, relatives (Mr. Greg Irwin and Mr. Sidney Irwin), household servants, Fellows, hon. Fellows, and ex-Fellows, undergraduates, and friends of the late Master, Clarendon Press representatives, and servants of the college. The outer coffin was of polished oak, with Gothic brass furniture, and bore the following inscription:—

Master of Balliol, / and Regius Professor of Greek / in the / University of Oxford,
Died 1st October 1893, / Aged 76 years.

The wreaths on the coffin were from Mrs. Herbert Morrell, “with deep regret,” from the household, and from Mr. F. W. Walker and Mr. R. T. Walker, St. Paul’s School, West Kensington, “in remembrance of countless kindnesses.”

Among those in the procession were the Speaker, Lord Camperdown, Lord Morley, Mr. Huxley, the Archdeacon of London, the Bishop of Oxford, the Master of Trinity, Cambridge, Lord Lingen, the Dean of Westminster, the Hon. Lyulph Stanley, Rev. W. H. Langhorne (Worton Rectory), &c.

The whole of the arrangements connected with the removal of the body to Oxford and the funeral were carried out by Elliston and Cavell, Magdalen-street, under the superintendence of their courteous representative, Mr. Siggars.

The memorial stone was placed over the grave 19 months later. Jackson’s Oxford Journal reported on 18 May 1895:

THE LATE DR. JOWETT.—During the present week a memorial has been placed over the grave of the late Master of Balliol, in St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Oxford. It consists of polished and moulded cope and plinth, of Cornish Granite, with shields on head and foot, bearing the arms of the College, the whole resting on a massive landing of gray Dalbeattie granite, finely chamfered. The cope bears the following inscription and text in unperishable letters:—

Born April 15, 1817. Died October 1, 1893.
Master of Balliol College / 1870–1893.
“They that put their trust in Him shall understand the truth.”

The work has been most satisfactorily designed and executed by Knowles and Son, of Holywell-street, Oxford.

His wealth at death was £20,217 5s. 8d. His biggest personal bequests were £2,000 each to Matthew Knight junior, his secretary, and his sister Martha Knight, his housekeeper: these were the children of Matthew & Jane Knight, who are also buried in this cemetery.

Jowett Walk

Jowett Walk in Oxford is named after Benjamin Jowett.



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